Q: What made a cafe society girl take up farming?
A: The Second World War.
This is a story, illustrated by contemporary letters, of a feminine struggle in a man’s world. There is a background of English rural life in WWII, with occasional flits into society. Frances Donaldson takes up farming; succeeds surprisingly against male antagonism; writes a successful book about it; broadcasts to Britain and America in wartime. In her letters she casts occasional darts at the Ministry of Information, the War Agricultural Committee and sundry politicians. It is a riveting read and that is why I am turning it into a book which will be published soon. Watch this space!
Frances Donaldson later became a well-known biographer. Here you can enjoy her style and wit unfettered by thoughts of publication or libel.
Start here It’s best to read each blog in date order to get the full flavour.
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About the war letters
These war letters are surprising and probably unique in their scope and interest. Searching the internet I have been able to find only very few letters from women at home writing to soldiers. The majority of collections are the other way round.
Frankie and Jack agreed to write to each other every day when the war started. The promise was fairly well kept although inevitably over such a long period of time there were lapses. They used the methods of airgraphs, ordinary letters through the post, special postcards and what they called ‘cables’ – telegrams in today’s language. The range of methods was because each in its own way was unreliable. Sometimes they repeated important news in various different types of communication. Even so Frankie could rarely get a timely answer to her urgent questions, such as whether to spend all their capital buying the farm which they had talked about briefly.
Jack did not return from the war until July 1945, and was out of England first in the Phoney War from November 1939 till the retreat in June 1940and then once the war began in earnest he was sent abroad from November 1940 to April 1944 (without any home leave). After that he was based in Europe and had one or two short periods in England.